If you’re searching for the perfect itinerary covering 3 days in Split Croatia, then this is it! As someone who has been living in and exploring Croatia over the last eight years, I’ve visited Split countless times and have nailed the ideal itinerary for first-time visitors.
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Split is a city that surprises most and leaves a lasting impression on all. Imagine a city literally built within the ruins of an ancient seaside Palace, with streets covered in marble, winding alleys with quaint hidden restaurants, bars, and cafes, a shimmering waterfront, and a bustling promenade lined with souvenir shops and cocktail bars. Split is a living museum, and getting lost in these archaic alleyways, sipping on a few fruity cocktails overlooking the harbor, and perusing the markets beneath the Palace, will surely be the trip of a lifetime.
Split is not only a gorgeous waterfront city but the ideal jumping-off point for exploring the Dalmatian archipelago. From Split Port, you can reach Hvar, Vis, and even Dubrovnik by ferry. Split’s central location is also great for day trips to some of Croatia’s most famous sites like Krka Waterfalls, Plitvice National Park, and the coastal city of Trogir.
This 3-day Split itinerary will give you the opportunity to explore the city thoroughly and visit one or two popular nearby destinations during a day trip.
The Perfect 3 Days in Split Croatia
How to Get Around Split Croatia
Split is a large city, but the Old Town and waterfront areas are easy to walk around. In fact, Split Old Town is entirely pedestrianized since the old town is all within the ancient grounds of Diocletian’s Palace. However, when you’re traveling across the city from the airport, and if you are planning to reach other areas outside of the tourist center of Split, there are a few options for getting around.
Split has an expansive public bus service that reaches the airport, the far corners of the city, and surrounding villages. When traveling by bus into the Split tourist center from the airport or from other large cities in Croatia, you will disembark at the central bus station, Autobusni Kolodvor Split. This bus station is located next to the ferry port and is 10 minutes walking distance from the Old Town center. You can purchase tickets at the bus station or on most buses themselves.
If you are looking to explore the greater Split area and have an Android phone, you can download the Split Bus App to help you figure out which busses connect in which locations and view timetables.
Yes, that’s right, you can actually get around Split by boat. What’s even better is you can actually skip the airport bus and get a boat from the airport directly to the Split port. Keep in mind that the operator “Split Express” only operates during the summer months, and the sailing times may not always align with your arrival time. So be sure to check the Split Express website in advance before hiking to the ferry dock!
Aside from airport transfers by boat, you can also take boat trips and short tours around the peninsula. The Split Ferry Port services ferries to dozens of locations in Croatia and across the Adriatic and serves as the main ferry port for Croatia, so it can definitely get pretty busy in the summertime. You can purchase tickets directly from the offices at the port. If you’re traveling in the summer, it’s best to buy your tickets in advance from the port and not 10 minutes before your desired boat departs. Just in case tickets are sold out.
Taxi / Uber
Taxis are standard in Split and can be hailed by waiving one down if it’s unoccupied. Otherwise, Uber does operate in Croatia, and you can order an Uber through the app available to iPhone and Android users to get where you need to go.
Walk / Bike
The Split Old Town, the waterfront Riva area, and the ferry port are so incredibly walkable that it’s actually more challenging to try to find transportation between point A and point B in the tourist center. The Palace area and the Riva (the waterfront promenade) are entirely pedestrianized.
If you want to get a bit outside of the tourist center or travel to a nearby beach, bikes are a great affordable option. There are bike rental options around the tourist center. Operators will generally have kiosks or shops around the Riva, offering competitive pricing for a half-day or full-day rental.
Where to Stay in Split
Split is a fabulous destination for all kinds of travelers, whether you’re a couple looking for a romantic getaway, a family looking for a sun holiday, or a backpacker looking for adventure and a social scene. That being said, there are a number of high-end resorts, middle-range boutique hotels, and quirky backpacker hostels spread out across Split Old Town and the greater tourist area.
Of course, there are also plenty of privately run accommodations that can be found on Airbnb like the one pictured below (a 200-year-old wine cellar transformed into a luxury apartment!). For more cool Airbnbs in Split, and the rest of Croatia, read this blog post.
Where to Stay in Split for Couples
Split is filled with idyllic boutique hotels fashioned after times past that make for the perfect romantic setting with your loved one. Staying in the Old Town and ancient streets of Diocletian’s Palace are perfect for waking up in and going for a wander. Not to mention it is the most centrally located area for exploring the main tourist sights of Split. However, if you are looking for a quiet escape, be warned that these narrow alleys can produce quite the echo when late-night party-goers are strolling home in the wee hours. If you are looking for a quieter spot that is still central, try a hotel up on the hill above Old Town in the direction of Marjan Hill. This is still incredibly central yet quieter and offers impressive views over the city and harbor.
Where to Stay in Split for Families
If you are traveling to Split with your family, you may want more of a beachy resort or hotel away from the crowds with plenty of options for children. The most popular beaches of central Split are located on the eastern side of the port and the Old Town, yet they are still within a general walking/biking distance from the center. There are a few hotels and resorts along the waterfront on this side of the city past Bačvice Beach and Firule Beach. On this side of the city, you will find the larger hotels, such as the Radisson Blu and Hotel Amphora, which are higher-end beachfront resorts.
Where to Stay in Split as a Backpacker
Backpackers and young travelers come to Split for the lively bar and nightlife scene, the affordable eateries, and the endless opportunity for adventure. Split is the perfect place to visit as a backpacker looking to stay for a while or a weekender looking to spend three days in Croatia. That being said, Old Town Split is FILLED with affordable hostels offering a lively social scene. Most hostels are located within the immediate area around Diocletian’s Palace and are generally close to the popular “backpacker street” of Split, Ul. Petra Kružića. This tiny alley in the Old Town is lined with small and affordable bars and is packed seven nights a week with backpackers looking to mingle. Stay at Fiesta Siesta Hostel on this street if you are looking for a party.
If you are looking for a quieter hostel or more affordable hotel, it’s best to find a spot closer to the other side of the Palace (Jupiter’s Temple side) or towards Marjan Hill. There are a few trendy boutique hostels in the area surrounding Old Town Split that are still within a five or 10-minute walking distance from the Palace pedestrianized area.
Split 3 Day Itinerary: How to Spend 3 Days in Split
Day 1: Explore the Old Town & Diocletian’s Palace
Spend an entire day dedicated to wandering the marbled streets of Old Town and Diocletian’s Palace. This Palace was built in the 4th century AD for the Roman emperor Diocletian. It was originally built as his retirement home and also served partially as a military garrison, which is why this Palace looks more like a citadel. In 1979 the Palace was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can stroll through parts of the Palace that are open to the public, but it is highly recommended to go on a guided tour to learn more about the history and to visit rooms and chambers unseen to the public eye.
After the tour, get lost in the streets of the Old Town on your own. You can check out the Cathedral and Bell Tower of St. Domnius and climb to the top of the bell tower for gorgeous views of Split. Wander through the streets and check out the dozens of quaint boutiques filled with linen clothing, shoes, bathing suits, premium leather goods, lavender products, and souvenirs.
Take a mid-afternoon coffee break (or cocktail, depending on your vibe) and have a seat on the steps of the Peristil at Diocletian’s Palace. This square is the perfect spot for people-watching, and there might even be a gladiator demonstration or acapella group performance here, depending on the time of day you visit.
In the afternoon, walk along the Riva, the waterfront promenade lined with countless cafes and restaurants. There are dozens of places here to stop for a drink, do a bit of shopping, or just admire the views of the harbor and people watch. There are plenty of public seating areas along the Riva. You don’t have to stop in a restaurant or bar, if you prefer, you can just park yourself on a bench and watch the world go by for a bit. It’s easy enough to sit and stare at the palm tree-lined marbled boardwalk for a while if you need a break.
In the evening, grab dinner at Bokeria, a chic Mediterranean restaurant. After dinner, cross the street for dessert at Gelateria Emiliana. This is hands down the best gelato in the city! They make their cones in-house and offer a one-of-a-kind Lavender gelato, which is unbelievably tasty!
Stroll back towards Diocletian’s Palace and experience the Peristil square by night. In the evening, the crowds die down here, and you might have the entire square to yourself. It’s pretty surreal to look up towards the bell tower, which is brightly lit up once the sun goes down, and bask in the ambiance of sitting beside this impressive historical site by night.
If you’re in the mood to bar hop, you will find plenty of late-night bars to wander into in the Old Town area or along the Riva. Otherwise, head back to your hotel or hostel and get ready for day 2 in the morning.
Day 2: Live Like a Local
Start your day like the locals do – with a famous Croatian coffee.
There are dozens of quaint and friendly coffee shops to check out, but here are three of the best coffee shops in Split.
- Kava2: The coffee here at Kava2 is roasted locally and served in the most beautiful handmade ceramic cups. This trendy spot offers minimalistic vibes and not only serves incredible pure coffee but offers a pretty Instagrammable setting.
- D16: This small cafe also has an impressive setting in the heart of Diocletian’s Palace (how often can you say you woke up and had coffee in a Palace?!) This specialty coffee roaster offers a unique selection of coffees amongst the stone walls of the Palace. Grab a spot inside or take your coffee to go and have a quick sit and sip on the steps at the Peristil.
- Dvor: If you’re staying in the beach community of Split, you will not want to miss out on this coffee shop. Located in the Firule neighborhood near the beach, this cafe offers an incredible view over the ocean from their garden terrace in the summertime. And who doesn’t like to drink their morning coffee with a view of the glittery Adriatic?
Head to “Pazar” ( the market area) in the late morning. Here you will find a vast variety of marketplace goods from local handicrafts to artisan baked goods. There are dozens of market stalls to walk through here, most selling clothes, jewelry, shoes, and souvenirs.
You can sample and buy seasonal fruit, local cheese, and freshly baked bread in this same market area. Grab something to snack on or stock up on some staples for an afternoon picnic.
After you’re done exploring the market, hike up Marjan Hill. This is the hill overlooking the Old Town and the sea at the end of the peninsula. This hike is a pretty easy walk up as it’s gradual and mostly paved, so don’t worry, you won’t need your hiking boots for this one.
Pro Tip: Type in “vidilica Marjan” into Google Maps, and it will take you to a viewpoint overlooking the Riva, perfect for snapping a few photos! Pick a spot on the top of the hill to have the food you purchased from the market and enjoy the views.
On your way down from Marjan Hill, stop at Galerija Meštrović, a Roman-style gallery of the Croatian artist Meštrović. Here you can admire incredible sculptures and snap a few photos of the amazing architecture and stunning views over the water. This gallery is on the south side of the hill, so keep that in mind when you’re making your way down.
After you visit the gallery, spend the rest of the day relaxing on the beaches at the base of Marjan Hill. There are a few beaches around here you can choose from, but Kasjuni Beach and Bene Beach are favorites among locals and tourists.
End your day watching the sun drop into the sea from one of these western-facing beaches, and get ready for an adventure-filled day tomorrow.
Day 3: Embark on a Day Trip From Split
Split is so perfectly positioned for taking day trips. You must take advantage of this and head off on a day trip for your third day in Split. There are several options to choose from depending on what interests you, such as island hopping, exploring nearby old cities, or venturing inland to find impressive cascading waterfalls.
Here are a few options to consider when planning your day trip:
Visit Hvar Town
The famous luxury island of Hvar is just a 1.5 – 2 hour ferry ride from Split Port and is an excellent option to quickly visit this holiday hot spot without breaking the bank. When you take the high-speed ferry to Hvar, you’ll have the whole day to explore the island and will head back to Split in the evening. However, make sure to book a return ticket when you buy from the kiosk at the Split Port so you can time your day out accordingly and know when to be back at the docks in Hvar, so you don’t miss your ride back.
In Hvar, you can partake in a range of activities from beach-dwelling and swimming in sparkly aquamarine water, wandering the streets of Hvar Old Town or Stari Grad, two of the most picturesque towns on the island, and hiking to the top of the Spanish Fort for impressive views.
For the best beaches on Hvar Island, be sure to read this blog post before you go!
Go island hopping
Experience the epitome of Dalmatian tourism and explore three different islands with this 3-island tour. This tour starts and ends at the Split port, and you don’t have to do much other than show up on time and be prepared to be whisked away! This tour lasts for 8 hours and includes plenty of opportunities to swim in shimmering lagoons, explore fishing villages, and enjoy the views from the sea. You can learn more information and read the full tour itinerary here.
Be sure to grab my eBook for an in-depth guide to island-hopping in Croatia including all of my top recommendations that can’t be found anywhere else on the blog!
Croatia Island Lover’s Guide$14.99
This historic town of Trogir is just 26 kilometers from Split is jaw-droppingly beautiful and offers plenty of opportunities for incredible photos. Trogir has an atmosphere similar to Split but is closer to the size of Hvar and offers quaintness met by grand architecture. This coastal town is a popular spot for superyachts to park and spend the day, so on top of exploring all this wonderful town has to offer, you can take a look at a few of the impressive boats docked along the promenade.
Pro Tip: Trogir is just 6 kilometers from the Split airport. If you have a late flight on the day you fly out, you can leave Split early and spend the day in Trogir before going to the airport in the evening!
For the best things to do in Trogir, be sure to read this blog post.
Venture to Krka National Park
If you want to get away from the sea and experience something totally different, try taking a day trip to Krka National Park. There are dozens of tour operators offering day trips from Split (you will see tons of options for operators when you’re walking up and down the Riva). These waterfalls are world-renowned and so impressive that photos don’t do them justice. Basically, imagine that scene from The Lion King when we see the Oasis where Timon and Pumba live, and that’s similar to what Krka Waterfalls resembles.
Go White Water Rafting on the Cetina River
Try white water rafting on the Cetina River if you’re looking for some true adrenaline-rushing adventure. You will also find several operators offering rafting trips along the Riva, or you can pop into one of the tourist offices on the Riva and ask them for white water rafting options.
Hold on to your helmets and zip down small waterfalls and rapids flowing through the canyons. The ride is not only exhilarating, but the scenery is impressive. However, it’s best to leave your camera at home so you can focus on your paddle on this day trip from Split.
Final Thoughts: 3 Days in Split
Split is the perfect 3-day destination in Croatia.
When you’re short on time and trying to decide how many days in Split are enough, three days will give you the perfect opportunity to see the best of the city, have an easy market strolling, beach-going day, and to take a day trip from the city. Although if you have the time, several days in Split will allow you to do it all!
No matter how much time you have, Split will leave you speechless and will have you already thinking about planning your next trip back to Split.
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